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ONE PHOTO – ONE STORY

28.09.2018

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César Rodríguez’s If Hell Existed project, led the Mexican photographer to remote corners of his home country, where few people tend to go. Controlled by drug cartels, these areas are home to communities defined by poverty and hard work – and where everything revolves around poppy farming and drug dealing.

"As I continued with the project, I started to ask questions such as, "Why do people grow drugs rather than anything else? Is it really their only way to earn a living?" So, I went to document the communities in the State of Guerrero, where poppies are grown to produce opium.

The roads to get there are in such a bad state, that it can take up to 4-5 hours to cover 30 to 50 kilometres by truck; the mountainous roads and difficult access leave these small communities very isolated. There are no jobs to be had there, so the drug cartels approach them and suggest growing poppies, and agree to buy the opium paste from them. Most of the communities have no electricity, no running water and no schools. Kids often have to walk up to 10 kilometers daily if they want to go to school: in many cases they do want to go, but, as often as not, necessity leaves them no option but to work and leave school unattended. They will start working as soon as they can walk and carry things.

In this photo, you can see a basket with some wild cherries, a 250 gram bag of opium paste, and a kid’s hand. After I took this photo I realized that this is how they live in most of these communities; the villagers are in contact with poppy plants and opium since they are kids, and it is this opium that will provide them with food."

Read more about César Rodríguez and his project in the new issue of the LFI magazine.

Photo: © César Rodríguez
Equipment: Leica M Monochrom with Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 Asph
© César Rodríguez

César Rodríguez

Weary of his job working in a chocolate factory, Mexican-born César Rodríguez turned to photography in 2013 – a decision that changed his life. After studying photography for a year, he began working on projects that tell the stories of his fellow human beings. His aim is to give a voice to those who are too often overlooked by society.
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